Meal prep made easy!
Hi Family Fresh Meals fam! I’m Sophie and I am so excited that Corey has asked me to do a guest post here for you.
I’m married and a Mom of two boys. I’ve been working hard at losing weight and getting healthy in the last year, and I’ve learned a few tips & tricks that I want to share with you. I’m a home cook with two picky eaters in the family, so it’s a constant “experiment” to find healthy foods and meals that everyone will enjoy.
We’ve been loving the summer life at the moment! The schedule gets more flexible, the grill gets plenty of use, and we are active doing so many fun things. I checked my email this morning and had 5 messages from my kids schools with so much information I was like… wait, it can’t be time for school yet! Thoughts of packing lunches, squeezing weeknight meals in between activities, and grabbing snacks on the go while taxiing the kids flooded my mind.
Back-to-school, let’s DO THIS!
It may feel overwhelming to plan an entire week of meals, snacks, and then prepare most of it in advance. So I suggest starting small, see how you feel and when you’re ready then you can add a couple more days or meals. The key is finding what works for you, there are no specific “rules” to follow. During the busy times of the school year, I will usually meal prep twice a week because it’s more manageable for me in my small kitchen; and it works with our family schedule.
Figuring out what to eat during the week really revolves around what everyone has going on. Map out the week with events – practices – meetings – appointments – etc… and figure out what meals you’ll need (i.e. make note of events serving lunch, snacks at practice, dining out, etc…). Then you can put together a meal plan using some of your favorite recipes, and researching new ones online or in books.
Prepping meals in advance doesn’t have to be boring, and you don’t need to be a chef. You just need to set aside a couple of hours to focus on it, and then you’re done! I always feel like it makes my week go so much smoother when I know that the snacks are ready to grab, and meals are planned and prepared. Put some music on, get your kitchen tools out, and have a little fun!
There are lots of things that I like to prepare, and I’m constantly trying to come up with creative ideas for healthy meals/snacks. Here are some foods that are consistent in my weekly rotation:
- Veggies for snacks, salads, and sides
- Brown rice
- Oats, flatbread
- Sweet potatoes
- Fresh fruit
- Chicken, ground turkey
- Yogurt, milk
- Eggs, cheese
- Popcorn, nuts, crackers/pretzels
As soon as I get home from grocery shopping, I’ll wash – dry – chop – store the produce right away. I suggest storing mixed greens/lettuce with a paper towel in the bag, and use air-tight containers to store chopped veggies and washed fruit. Basically, moisture is not your friend; gently press the air out of bags, or use air-tight jars & containers (I like ones that stack well in the fridge). I’ve found that if I’ve got everything prepped and easily accessible, then we are more likely to go for something healthy when feeling “snacky” rather than hovering around the pantry.
Next, I like to boil a whole pot of eggs. Hard boiled eggs make a great snack, I also love using them on salads and alongside meals for extra protein. If you don’t have time or just don’t want to boil & peel, you can buy bags of hard boiled eggs at the store. So convenient!
For dry snacks like nuts, popcorn, crackers, etc… I will weigh and portion them. This really helps with portion control! Otherwise, I risk getting carried away with an open box of crackers and be left wondering what happened once I get to the bottom (oops!). It’s also really handy to have them ready to throw in the kids lunch boxes, or sports bags to take to practice.
Preparing chicken for the week is a staple in our household. I go back and forth between the grill and the crockpot. It’s so versatile! I serve it with a few sides, or I will use it for things like tacos, stuffed potatoes, curry, omelets, soups, salads, pasta, and sandwiches. It’s so easy to prepare!
3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
⅓ cup low sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Any other seasoning you like*
1. Turn crockpot to low (I always use crockpot liners because they make cleanup so much simpler)
2. Pour broth in bottom of pot
3. Place chicken in pot, season
4. Cook on low for 6 hours
5. Pull chicken apart with two forks (or use automatic mixer)
6. Place back in the pot, stir, cook additional 1 hour on low.
*protip: limit the seasonings so you have more uses for the chicken. I usually will only add garlic, and minced onion. You can always add different seasonings to it for whatever meal you end up using it for (curry powder for Indian, taco seasoning for Mexican night, oregano/basil for Italian, etc…).
Some of my favorite kitchen tools are my non-stick pans, waffle maker, sharp knives, and muffin tins! Those tins have seen so many recipe experiments (some good, some flops!). But something that I always go back to is my “egg muffins”. They are individual frittatas, and they are great for make-ahead breakfasts! Eat within 3 days, you can just heat them up in the microwave for 30 seconds and serve with fruit, greens, and top with hot sauce if you want to live on the spicy side.
You can change it up by slicing them to make a breakfast sandwich. I’ve experimented with a few different versions of these and they are all good. You can really use whatever veggies you have on hand, and skip the meat if you want. I don’t have cheese in this particular recipe, but you can add shredded cheese if you like.
20 slices pre-cooked chicken bacon, cut in half (can sub any bacon you like)
1/2 pkg frozen cauliflower rice, thawed
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3 cups liquid egg whites
3 large eggs
2 Roma tomatoes, cut in 20 slices
Any seasoning you like, to taste… I used: 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp minced onion, 1 tsp chili powder
1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare non-stick muffin tin by lining each cup with 2 half-strips of bacon in a “+” shape, place in oven for a minute to soften the pre-cooked bacon so it lays flat in the bottom of the cups
2. Heat cauli & spinach on med-high heat in a non-stick pan to draw out the moisture. Sauté with herbs/spices, stirring frequently
3. Add 1 heaping tbsp of veggie mixture to each bacon-lined muffin cup
4. In mixing bowl, beat eggs together
5. Add 3 tbsp egg mixture to each muffin cup. Use the end of a kebab stick or toothpick to gently stir the egg & veggie filling to combine.
6. Slice tomatoes in 20 slices. Gently press one slice on top of each filled muffin cup. Bake for 30 minutes.
7. Remove* from tin immediately and place on cooling rack to serve. Serve warm right away. Once cooled, store in air-tight container in fridge for up to 3 days.
*protip: I use the end of a kebab stick or toothpick to release the edges of the frittatas from tin to easily remove.
While the oven is hot, I will bake/roast sweet potatoes, and roast any veggies (i.e. zucchini, squash, carrots) as well.
And that’s it! Meals and snacks all done. Now comes the easy part, back to school shopping! Am I right? Kidding…
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Busy Mom Food Prep
- 20 slices pre-cooked chicken bacon cut in half (can sub any bacon you like)
- 1/2 pkg frozen cauliflower rice thawed
- 1 pkg 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 3 cups liquid egg whites
- 3 large eggs
- 2 Roma tomatoes cut in 20 slices
- Any seasoning you like to taste... I used: 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp minced onion, 1 tsp chili powder
- Preheat oven to 350. Prepare non-stick muffin tin by lining each cup with 2 half-strips of bacon in a "+" shape, place in oven for a minute to soften the pre-cooked bacon so it lays flat in the bottom of the cups
- Heat cauli & spinach on med-high heat in a non-stick pan to draw out the moisture. Sauté with herbs/spices, stirring frequently
- Add 1 heaping tbsp of veggie mixture to each bacon-lined muffin cup
- In mixing bowl, beat eggs together
- Add 3 tbsp egg mixture to each muffin cup. Use the end of a kebab stick or toothpick to gently stir the egg & veggie filling to combine.
- Slice tomatoes in 20 slices. Gently press one slice on top of each filled muffin cup. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove* from tin immediately and place on cooling rack to serve. Serve warm right away. Once cooled, store in air-tight container in fridge for up to 3 days.
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Family Fresh Meals is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.
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